Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are a great way to get fresh fruits and veggies while minimizing your impact on our dear Mother Earth. CSAs are basically local farm clubs that you pay to belong to (and support), and then receive a weekly allotment of produce until the harvest runs out. You're essentially paying up front for fruits and veggies all summer long.
I joined the Farm School CSA with a friend at work, and we received our second delivery yesterday. The strawberries looked a little funny, but once washed, they perked up. Biting into one took me right back to my strawberry pickin' days as a kid - this was a COMPLETELY different fruit than the chewy, rough, tasteless berries you pick up at the grocery store. These were soft, juicy, and sweet - I felt like I could still taste the sunshine in them.
Based on that (and the delicious arugula), I'm going to join a CSA each and every summer... not to mention the good that I'm doing for the environment.
Each ingredient in our meals travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to our plate.* My food goes further than I do... by far. Clearly our food gets around, and all that movement takes a lot of fossil fuels. Not to mention the environmental impact of eating meat, dairy, and eggs, which take an enormous amount of grain (typically corn or soybeans) to produce. Much of the nutrients the animals eat goes to form its bones or organs, which we can't eat.
I'm not advocating a spartan diet of dandelion greens picked from the parking lot behind your house. I am advocating trying to eat more fruits and veggies from your local farmers. There's a wealth of nutritious and delicious options out there - just be a little adventurous. Some of the veggies look a little funny, like the "cat tongue lettuce" we got this week, and the kohlrabi we've gotten two weeks in a row.
Some resources to help you along in your local vegetable quest:
Community Supported Agriculture Programs in the Boston Area
Most of the CSAs have pick-up points throughout the area, but do not deliver to your door.
Farm School - Delivers to Watertown and Belmont
Parker Farm - Delivers to Davis Square, Central Square, and Porter Square
Picadilly Farm - Delivers to Arlington
Farmer Dave's - Delivers to Somerville
Silverbrook Farms - Delivers to Cambridge, Chatham, Dartmouth, Provincetown, Somerville, Watertown, and more using bicycle couriers
Boston Area Farmers' Markets
Union Square, Somerville (Saturdays)
Davis Square, Somerville (Wednesdays)
Central Square, Cambridge (Mondays)
Charles Square, Cambridge (Fridays & Sundays)
Copley Square, Boston (Tuesdays & Fridays)
City Hall Plaza, Boston (Mondays & Wednesdays)
In Season Salem (Saturdays)
See this complete list of Boston-area Farmers Markets and check out these tips for buying produce.
Pick Your Own
A complete list of pick your own fruits is available on the PickYourOwn.org website, along with notes and hours. My personal favorite is a local orchard in Harvard (Doe Orchard) that has the most amazing peaches I have ever eaten. Be sure to call before you trek out to any of the orchards, though!
100 Mile Diet
USDA on CSAs
Recipes for those CSA veggies
More recipes for the CSA deliveries
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*According to 100milediet.org.
Photos courtesy of Casey.